Every little step we take towards going green can make a difference. Our family has made a lot of changes to be more resourceful and eco-friendly but I know we can do even better. We all have our own reusable water bottles, we’re composting (most) stuff, we have a garden, we’re buying local and we recycle diligently but we’ve identified some areas where we can do even better. So my New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 include some commitments to make us less wasteful and even more resourceful. In some cases we’ll even save money. In some cases we’ll simply have to be more organized but that will pay off in the long run too by saving us time.
1. We’ll start with Christmas 2010.
My green resolution for New Year’s 2011 will actually start with Christmas 2010. I want to avoid toys and other gadgets that require batteries but don’t really add any value to our lives.
2. Use our reusable grocery bags every time we shop.
We’ve come along way with using reusable grocery bags. We have plenty but our biggest pitfall is not putting them back into the car or else only thinking of them at the grocery store. We need to make a New Year’s resolution that part of putting away groceries is to return the reusable shopping bags to the car and to remember them no matter where we are shopping.
3. Paying bills online or else upfront.
We pay most of our bills online but as new accounts become part of our lives we don’t always take the time to follow through with online bill paying options and by the end of year we’re getting “paper” and mailing “paper” back again. Another source is ordering things like magazines and checking the pay later box. This means they send me another paper bill and I mail them some more paper. If we want it, it should be one transaction per year period. Reducing the paper and the fuel costs to send it is another green New Year’s resolution.
4. Buying in bulk is eco-friendly too.
There are some things we buy every week that with a little more organization we could buy in bulk. It will simply mean reorganizing some cabinets to accommodate but along with reducing packaging and saving the earth it will also save us money in the long run.
5. We can compost more.
Our family has been composting for years. The problem? When the compost bucket fills up and no one is ready to go to the compost bin, it’s too easy to drop compostable materials in the trash bin. We need a New Year’s resolution to make emptying the compost bucket a non-negotiable chore like other any other.
6. Using less paper for school and homework.
We’ve been pretty creative here too but we need to make a better commitment to using scrap paper for school assignments that don’t need to be saved. Does anyone really need to use a clean sheet of paper for writing spelling words three times each? Can’t we “turn over” poster projects and reuse the other side? There are many more ways we can go green with school projects and homework.
7. Planning greener birthday and holiday parties.
We’ve started some cool green traditions like saving jelly jars and serving the kid’s drinks in jars with their initials on top. It’s novel so kids love it and it saves on disposable cups too but we can do even better. I’ve seen some cool ideas in Parent’s magazine like making birthday signs with fabric and sewing the words in yarn, which we have plenty of. (There specific idea was to use burlap for an island party but I am going to reuse a sheet from a homemade Cleopatra Halloween costume instead.) This will take some time yes, but it’s something fun we can do together and reuse instead of buying paper or plastic banners that will become waste.
8. Do less laundry.
This green New Year’s resolution is very important to me, as laundry is my least favorite chore anyway. Sure we reuse towels and wear pajamas more than once but still our family generates way too much laundry. For 2011 I commit to better to policing the laundry habits of my family and even better to teaching them to police their own laundry habits so that I have less laundry to do now but that they have less laundry to do in the future. It will save on detergent, water, electricity and wear of clothes too.
9. Buy and use less “cleaners” and use more natural cleaners.
We buy many greener household cleaners now from Seventh Generation to EcoCover but we’re discovering more and more that good old baking soda and white vinegar will do many household cleaning jobs very well and are better for the earth too. My New Year’s resolution for 2011 is to try to not be swayed by advertising that tells me I need xyz product to keep my house clean and to try more natural cleaning methods and more elbow grease. I can save money and maybe even maybe burn more calories while cleaning my home.
10. Be more organized and plan ahead.
This is an all encompassing eco-friendly New Year’s Resolution for 2011 but the reality is many times we have greener options that escape us because we ran out of time. Whether it is making handmade Mother’s Day gifts (and starting way before May) or making a meal from what is in the pantry and freezer (and planning it way before 5:00), planning ahead and being more organized can save money and help to do our part to save the earth too.